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10-16-2012, 07:56 PM   #46
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The OP states that she has a friend with a Nikon 3100 and that the images coming out of that camera are way better than the ones she gets out of her K-r. When I first got my K-x my friend (and boss) decided to get himself a Nikon 3100, even after I tried to persuade him to go with Pentax.
Most of the first shots I saw coming out of his camera initially impressed me too. At that time I was shooting JPEGs and didn't really know much about working with RAW files yet. Well, it turns out that the Nikon 3100 put out more pleasing shots than the Pentax because of their JPEG engine is different than Pentax JPEG output. I was never really pleased with what came out of my Camera as a JPEG, so I set my sights on RAW files and how to work with them, I also wanted to prove to myself that I can produce better IQ than that Nikon. A couple months later after doing my research and studying up on RAW and how to post process them in Lightroom and sometimes photoshop, before you know it I was putting out some nice processed images compared to the JPEG output of that Nikon, they were enough to make my friend drool over them and constantly asking me just how I managed to be getting such awesome images from a camera that obviously was not producing like his Camera. I just keep telling him to move over to RAW and stop relying on JPEG and letting his Camera make ALL the decisions for him, he just says that he doesn't want to be bothered with RAW and thinks it is just a hassle to try and learn RAW. I respected his decision but let him know that his hands are tied when he works with JPEG that that once he learns RAW, he will never go back to JPEG. There are many photographers that insist on using JPEG only and I am not holding that against them or bashing them for that.
I just am trying to express from personal experience that I found there is a whole different world out there when you expand your horizons and go with RAW files. There is nothing wrong with his Nikon, ya it is nice compared to the K-x, but then when you put these two cameras up against each other, the K-x just blows that camera away, and I have always liked Nikon, so this is not a Pentax fanboy speaking here.
Fast forward one year and I bought (upgraded) to a K-5, but still have the K-x and use it just as much, I still take the same quality of images but am getting better and better at post processing, my friend took notice of the improvements and automatically thinks the better quality is because of the upgraded camera body, so now, he is looking to get a higher model of camera, I keep telling him it is not because of an upgraded camera, and I even showed him recent images I have taken with my K-x to prove that fact.
He still thinks more megapixels, full frame, the brand name "Nikon", etc... is going to make him a better photographer. I just tell him that the first thing he really needs to to is to switch the mode switch on his camera to anything other than "Auto", because honestly, I have NEVER seen him take images with that thing set in any other mode than "Auto"! and now this guy wants to move to something he thinks is more "professional"
I really try to help him out but all he can think about is of all the years his sister had a massive collection of Nikon cameras and bags full of lenses that "did everything" under the sun, he can never take his mindset away from the premise of "Nikon" is the best, the more megapixels the better, and "bigger" is better.
To the OP- you have gotten tons of advice in here and it looks like you are taking it all in and you are really serious about learning photography, all I can say is-take it slowly and step by step, it will all come to you in due time. Try not to look at what other camera brands are putting out and then fall into the rut of constantly buying camera gear just because you saw one take a better image than the one you have, a person can go forever chasing the next big thing.
The most important thing on a camera resides within ten inches behind the viewfinder.
NEVER blame the equipment!
When you see an image come out of another camera that you feel is better than what is coming out of yours, then just take it as a challenge, ask yourself and even that other photographer just what can you do to achieve the same type of image that they just produced, they are going to do one of two things- 1)Just arrogantly tell you they just have a better camera and turn their nose up in the air(your really dont need this type of person giving you advice) or 2)they will honestly try and help you out and give you advice, most photographers I met will fall into the #2 category.
I love helping others out, no matter what brand name there camera has on it, and most of the time the Pentax I have in my hand at the time will usually impress them and they will ask me about my camera.
If you are not getting the shots you want, then take it as a challenge to learn how to make them come out the way you want.
As for my settings? I still try to keep it simple still, as I regard myself as a mere novice, I usually have the focus set on AF-S, that allows me to zero in on my target, focus on them by holding my shutter button halfway down, while still halfway holding down my shutter button (locking the focus on my target) I recompose my shot and then follow through with my shot. My exposure is center weighted so that I can expose for my target, and I even have my focus on spot focus, I never use any of the others....dont have a use for them yet.
Most of the time I try and size up my shot and then envision what I am going for, how do I want this image to come out? what settings do I need to achieve my vision? In what way can I make this shot simple, such as les clutter, less distractions in the shot, how do I eliminate all non essential items in my image? there are so many different variables in each different shot you take and it takes time to get a grip on it all, dont get frustrated, instead treat every shot as a challenge, practice shots on a subject that you can come back to time and time again, this will help you dial in different techniques.
Focusing and composing and exposure settings are all very important, and these things can be very difficult at first, but with practice I am sure you will amaze yourself before you know it. I too thought my camera was at fault with the focus and exposure, ya it got a bit aggravating but I stuck with it and now am starting to feel like I am getting a handle on it all.
There is plenty of free advice and tutorials and information on the internet that will show you the way.....just Google it.
Good luck, I hope this (novel) post helps you out, I have found out that since I got back into photography I have resparked my desire for this hobby.

10-17-2012, 06:23 AM   #47
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Wow what a thread, Some great advice, only a few things that I don't believe were stated before. You say you have been shooting images for 6 years and this is your first DSLR. First point and shoot cameras by design have mush better depth of field (a larger area in front and behind your subject are in focus) than DSLR's and produce images that look more in focus than most DSLR's. The advice in the posts above should help improve your sharpness. 2nd if your camera is back focusing (some of your sample images look like it is) you can tell by shooting the same image using the finder and a 2nd identical image using live view, then compare them, if the live view image is sharper you can adjust your camera to compensate.

10-17-2012, 01:09 PM   #48
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BirdDude007, your novel-post helps a lot, too! Thanks for taking the time to tell me this. I remember telling my co-worker that I bought a new camera and she asked me which one. (She also is into photography and she uses Canon) I said a Pentax and she was like "eeh, not very good of a camera" or smth like that. I was like "yeah, whatever", but I started to doubt in my choice because of what she said. Then I realised that I had already purchased it, there was no time to worry about if it's a good or bad brand, it was time to worry about getting the best out of it And here I am.

Hans, good advice, indeed. I didn't know that the sharpness could differ when taking a photo when using live view or viewfinder...
10-17-2012, 01:30 PM   #49
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As far as pure image quality and noise performance goes, the k-x/k-r pretty much beat out every single entry level until the recent D3200. As far as features go, the k-r is a bit better than my k-x.

It is because of the fantastic sensor in my k-x, coupled with some fantastic lenses that I've researched into, I can capture shots of this caliber: <-full resolution.

To be clear, my old 18-55 wasn't fantastic. It was good enough, for pictures that I would scale for facebook - but at 100% viewing, it was definitely lacking. Example:

You don't need super expensive lenses. Some cheap manual (M or A) series primes will give you the sharpness you are looking for, if you are willing to spend a little bit more effort.

And sometimes, sharpness is overrated. The rest of the image makes for the impressions: <-shot with 18-55

So what I'm trying to say is, the k-x and k-r sensors can resolve more than you can imagine: <-look at the gears

Cheaper/lower quality lenses won't reach that limit, but well built professional lenses can. It's just a cost issue. Whether or not that cost is worth it to you, for the improvement in sharpness, is completely up to you. After all, no one is going to look at your pictures at 100% besides yourself. Everyone else is looking at your pictures for the information you want to convey. And in addition - for the ultimate detail and clarity, you must be willing to learn how to post process pictures. JPEG and auto will never get you to the limit of the sensor - even if you buy a $2,000 lens.

Seriously, I wouldn't care if this image isn't as sharp as some of my others. It's just wonderful to look at, regardless.

10-17-2012, 01:45 PM   #50
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Your photos are beautiful!

When I want a new lens, what features should I look for to determine a good one? Like, when I'm going to buy a new lens or a tripod or whatever (that's expensive), I would rather invest in something more expensive then have many cheap ones and which really don't even work the way I want, you know. I takes time to save up money for those things, so that is why...
10-17-2012, 02:12 PM - 1 Like   #51
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QuoteOriginally posted by hollywoodhr Quote
Your photos are beautiful!

When I want a new lens, what features should I look for to determine a good one? Like, when I'm going to buy a new lens or a tripod or whatever (that's expensive), I would rather invest in something more expensive then have many cheap ones and which really don't even work the way I want, you know. I takes time to save up money for those things, so that is why...
A tripod has many things to consider:

1) Weight - a heavier tripod is generally sturdier, more durable, and gives more height without giving up balance. But a heavier tripod is harder to bring around. I suggest getting a cheap $50 or $60 dollar tripod like, Sunpak 6600DX Tripod with Pistol Grip Ballhead (Black) 620-660PG, and then using it to understand what to upgrade to. Never get something expensive at first - reviews don't take into account your personal preferences.

2) Head type - tripods can come with various heads: simple screw types, ballheads, super technical fancy heads that I've never used. I chose a ball-head with a pistol grip (the link above) because I wanted something I could use very quickly. The downside is that it isn't very accurate, so my framing is always a little off, and it's not super steady (build quality is meh) - so now I know what I need to upgrade to.

3) Leg locks - Leg locks are REALLY important. Simple friction tab locks are the norm, while the rotating locks are less common. Friction locks can wear away pretty quickly, if you aren't careful. That's why I want to get a tripod with rotating locks.

4) Misc accessories - Tripods with hooks on the bottom for hanging weights allow you to use your bag for additional tripod support. Some expensive tripods can open up completely, and let you bring the head to floor level. Some tripods have a lot of visible level markers, some have them located in stupid places. So I really suggest getting a cheap solid one (like the link I linked) and learning from there. I had the benefit of seeing and feeling that tripod in store, so my last advice is - if you have a big photography store nearby, go there and check out those tripods.


There is so much to learn about lenses, that I'm not even sure I know enough after a year of photography. To select lenses, I suggest you follow the below:

1) Determine what you need the lens for. The use of the lens is the most important thing - and try to be specific first, before broadening. For example, I needed a lens for shooting dark gaming events where I am in the audience. This tells me:
  • I need medium range, and most likely a zoom if I don't get the same seats at each event.
  • I need it to be large aperture (fast). Something like a F2.8 professional zoom.
  • I need it to be sharp at F2.8.
  • I need it to be somewhat light - maybe lightest in class if possible. Tripods aren't viable in event seating.
Make a list like that. When I say specific, before broadening up, it is to say - I want this lens for a specific task, but it can also do other things (shoot wildlife, portraits, etc). But if I don't define my specific intent, I'll have too many lenses to compare.

2) Determine your budget. I put budget after need, because budget before need skews your results. Maybe there is one perfect lens for your need, and you might just splurge. Budget, however, is still important. Knowing your upper limit will help narrow the choices down.

3) Weigh image quality against features. Some lenses have fantastic fantastic image quality, but lack features. An example is Tamron's 70-200 (which I have). It was as sharp, or sharper than any 70-200 of it's time, and was only exceeded then by the Canon 70-200 Mk2. However, it doesn't have silent motor, quick shift, weather sealing, terrible AF-MF switch, etc etc. To me, however, I wanted pure image quality. And it was the lightest 70-200. So that made the decision for me. However, if I was shooting physical sports, I'd get the Sigma 70-200 HSM - faster focus, and better locking focus. If I was shooting waterfalls and rainy days, I'd get the DA*60-250. Weather sealed.

So weigh image quality against features.

4) To find out accurate information on lenses, you'll have to be very very impartial and investigative. I have, over a year, found multiple sites with information on a majority of the Pentax lenses in production. I have also scoured Flickr, this forum, DPReview, and tons other resources for pictures from these lenses. I have also read individual reviews, with a grain of salt, to see user results. It was long, arduous, and it taught me tons of things about lenses that I wasn't looking for before.

My suggestion is: Follow the first three steps to find your potential lens candidates. This forum has become more and more geared towards providing accurate information for users like you. Similarly, Flickr is fantastic for finding sample pictures, while providing exif information. Review sites and lens testing sites can be skewed or difficult to peruse through. User reviews can be very biased as well. Look at pictures - they will tell you the most.
10-18-2012, 07:34 AM   #52
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Thank you very much for that detailed guide! I love taking photos of landscapes, but macros are very important, too. I thought I should get a lens which allows me to take better macro photos. I don't like to photograph moving objects. Unless I win a lottery, I won't be buying a new lens soon though.
I will firstly get a tripod, there was even this review of 7 different types of tripods on some Estonian site, umm it compared all of those tripods in those 4 points that you wrote about here. I remember I had chosen one of the tripods the reviewer talked about, and they said the build quality was quite awful. So yeah haha
10-18-2012, 08:59 AM   #53
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One important thing is - if you are confused or need more information, definitely post a thread. A lot of people are very helpful on this forum, and your questions will never go unnoticed (I, for one, am a very active forumnite because I have lots of free time at work).

I believe that landscape lenses reside in two categories, ultra-wide and normal-wide. Landscape shots taken with large foregrounds are the ultra-wide (10-20mm). Landscape shots that show perspectives closer to what our eyes see are the normal wides (20-28mm). Unfortunately, the widest macro lens we have is the DA 35mm F2.8 Limited Macro - which can perform as a landscape lens, just a little bit tight. It is a fantastic macro lens though, so perhaps you can consider it.

Otherwise - if you aren't going for 1:1 macro, you can get the DA 16-45, DA 17-70, Sigma 17-70, etc. These zooms allow you to get close to 0.25 or 0.3x magnification - while giving you the range for good landscape shots. These are also fantastic zooms, quite sharp (better than your 18-55). Your 18-55 also gives 0.3x magnification (at 55mm, closest focus), so you can be a judge if that 0.3x is enough or not. One nice thing about the lenses I have mentioned is that they are sharp enough for you to crop - the 18-55 might be a little soft when cropping, but the DA 16-45 is nice and sharp. So cropping will let you simulate larger magnification. For example, in the big image of the cat I linked before:

This is a 100% crop, and when posted online, people don't think it's a crop. So to them, I took a REALLY close picture of that cat (i.e. magnification).

10-18-2012, 09:16 AM   #54
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I will take these suggestions in consideration!
10-21-2012, 04:21 PM   #55
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Check this forum's lens reviews, they provide a chart to compare Sharpness, Aberrations, Bokeh, Autofocus, Handling, & Value for all Pentax lenses. You can compare the sharpness score of your kit lens to others you are considering.

10-21-2012, 04:49 PM   #56
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QuoteOriginally posted by hollywoodhr Quote
Hi everyone! I bought a new Pentax k-r (18-55mm kit) in August and I am a bit disappointed.

I think the photos I take are all bad. Maybe not in the idea sense, but the quality is really not what I expected. I will post some examples and explain better.

So, I think the edges of the objects are kind of blurry or smudged, definitely not sharp. I am not that new to photography thing, I have been taking photos for about 6 years, but using a DSLR for only a couple of months. I got to try a friend's Nikon D3100 and I was like "wow, I want one too!". I had picked out the Pentax one I have right now, a long time ago, though. For some reason I definitely had to have a Pentax, I don't know why, I had been using a Canon and an Olympus so far.
Anyways, I have read the manual, which helped me understand a few things better. Also, the friend with that Nikon took a photography course and got this workbook which also explained some techinques and all that stuff, so I read that too. I began to think that it's all me, like I don't know how to take photos and stuff like that. I still do think it's not only the camera, it is also the photographer. But, I don't really know what else to do.

So, here I am, asking for advice... Maybe I need to change certain settings. Or maybe I'm just being delusional and everything is normal.

And sorry if this has been posted before, I'm not trying to be lazy, I have searched for a solution, but I did not find the answer.

The photos:

umm, not the best photo, the lightning is real bad...

zoomed in a bit

while this one looks okay to me:

then there are these (not taken by me, but with my camera):

this one is like especially weird. the eyes and lips are like smudgy, while the hair seems fine and the background is blurry as expected.

I think these samples will do...

You might think why do I zoom in the photos, but it's a habit of mine, and if it doesn't look fine to me zoomed in, I don't like it. And that is the reason I'm posting here, all my photos are like that. I used to love taking photos, then it started to fade away. I bought a new camera, hoped it would bring back the inspiration and everything and it did, but this is definitely not helping.

I don't know what I'm doing wrong here, so a little help maybe?

Hope you get to see this.

You've been given some good advice but you've also been told some inaccurate info.

AFS - Auto Focus Single it focuses once and unless you repress the focus button it will not focus again (use this for a subject that is stationary like landscape, portraits, and etc)

AFC - Auto Focus Continuous focus is continuous for example you focus on a moving bike rider or runner once you've focused (and not released the button) it will continue to focus remember the subject is moving.

AFA - Auto Focus Auto - Camera selects either AFS or AFC not a really good idea though.

Set the AF MODE to AF.S unless you need AF.C
Set your camera to use AE Center Weighted metering till you learn a little more about exposure.
Set the autofocus point to SPOT again till you learn.

You're problem with the first set of photo's you posted is that you're shooting at too slow a shutter speed. On the first portrait you're in ISO 800, should have been in 100 or 200 by the look of the background.
Photo's in your first set were at 1/40 - 1/60 shutter speed at that slow a shutter speed and hand held the majority of your photos will not be sharp because of camera shake, regardless of the cameras

Set HIGHLIGHT CORRECTION TO ON your pictures have blown highlights setting this one will help reduce them.
This means you'll not be able to set the ISO lower than 200 which isn't bad because it forces you to select a higher shutter speed.

All of these settings can be set by pressing the info button.

Rule of thumb is to set your shutter speed at least twice your focal distance. Helps produce sharper pictures.
For example you're shooting at 85 mm then the lowest shutter speed you want is 1/170 (1/200 since 1/170 isn't available) or faster
Shoot in the lowest ISO possible keeping above in mind.

Here are some very good youtube videos play the ones for camera controls first and then the exposure and
take a look at the videos in the getting sharp photos.
there are more that you may be interested in. He explains things quite well.

LINK: PhotoExposed - Photography Tutorials

Keep at it you'll get the hang of it, I use to take 150 photos at a time and have less than half that were keepers. So don't get

Hope this helps you.

Last edited by geru2000; 10-31-2012 at 06:00 AM.
10-27-2012, 08:28 AM   #57
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Thank you very much, it does help!
10-27-2012, 10:38 AM   #58
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QuoteOriginally posted by geru2000 Quote
Set your camera to use AE SPOT metering till you learn a little more about exposure.
I would actually agree with everything you said except for the above. I would actually recommend people stay away from spot metering until they learn a little more about exposure. Center weighed average metering would be the more general-purpose metering which should give excellent results in 95% of shooting situations. Spot gets people into trouble very, very quickly.
10-27-2012, 02:49 PM   #59
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The 16-45 is probably the best value in short zooms available. Mid-range - around 28-35 it's very nice. I had the original 18-55 when I got the K-10 and that was my first purchase, it's a marked improvement. I always found it tracked movement very well in AF-C mode. If you're unhappy with the kit lens, this is one to consider as it's very inexpensive. I don't use it as much now on the K-5 since I have the 18-135, but do find it more effective if I'm indoors like at a greenhouse or museum etc. and don't need that extra range.

Really, though, digital isn't much different from film photography. Keep your speed up, stop down to a comfortable range, keep your ISO under control.
10-27-2012, 04:02 PM   #60
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QuoteOriginally posted by newmikey Quote
I would actually agree with everything you said except for the above. I would actually recommend people stay away from spot metering until they learn a little more about exposure. Center weighed average metering would be the more general-purpose metering which should give excellent results in 95% of shooting situations. Spot gets people into trouble very, very quickly.
This is very true! Avoid spot metering unless you have a specific reason to use it and understand how it works.

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